Since Putin doesn’t congratulate Biden, consultants predict what the end result will imply for US-Russia relations


Russian President Vladimir Putin will chair a meeting with members of the government via a conference call at the residence of the Novo-Ogaryovo state outside Moscow on September 29, 2020.


As world leaders congratulate Democrat Joe Biden on winning the US presidential election, Russia's decision not to do so speaks volumes.

Analysts noted that many European leaders congratulated Biden and expressed a desire to renew previously strained relations with the US and to work constructively with the new administration. However, Russia did not comment on the election results this weekend without President Vladimir Putin delivering his congratulations.

It's a marked change from 2016, when the Kremlin rushed to congratulate Trump on his victory.

Instead, the Kremlin issued a cautious statement on Monday in which spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he would wait for the official election results before commenting on the result and that he had taken note of Trump's announcement of legal processes related to the vote.

Speaking to reporters, Peskov added that Putin had repeatedly stated that he was ready to work with any US leader, Reuters reported, and that Russia hoped it could enter into dialogue with the new US administration and find a way to improve relations normalize.

The lack of congratulations for Biden has not been lost for Russia observers.

"Think Putin is trying to send a message that Russia doesn't care what happens in the US – that Russia is somehow above it all," Timothy Ash, senior emerging market strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, said in one Note on Sunday

"Ridiculous given that Putin was on the agenda in 2016, brought Trump to the White House and did his best to re-elect him," added Ash, alluding to Russia's interference in the 2016 US election, in which Trump took part Power came.

Despite the U.S. continuing economic sanctions against Russia for that electoral influence – as well as annexing Crimea, role in a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine, alleged role in a nerve agent attack in Britain, and other offenses – Putin appeared to be enjoying sympathetic relations with Donald Trump.

The outgoing US president made waves in 2018 when Trump, after a high-profile summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki, believed he believed Putin's rejection of allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 vote, despite advice from US intelligence agencies.

Now there is likely a change in the air when it comes to US-Russia relations.

At the very least, analysts told CNBC ahead of the outcome that they expected a Biden win to increase tension between Washington and Moscow and increase the likelihood of new sanctions against Russia.

While experts from the risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence said on Friday they had expected greater cooperation between Biden and Europe on global issues such as "fighting China, Russia and climate change".

In their release, analysts led by Mujtaba Rahman, Managing Director of Europe Analysis, predicted "more cooperation on (a) tough stance on the Kremlin and policies on Ukraine and Belarus" and "significant progress" with international allies NATO, bilateral trade and Iran.

"Hard line against Russia"

A relaxation of US economic sanctions against Russia is likely to be linked to progress in meaningful conflict resolution in Crimea and in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine (where two pro-Russian regions have declared themselves republics).

Moscow and Kiev are still eluding a peace agreement despite efforts by Germany and France to broker a lasting solution. Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said Beren's focus should be on stopping any further aggression against Ukraine.

He stressed that as a "leading member" of the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee, Biden was very familiar with the conflicts in the region.

"This precedent suggests that he will take a tough line against Russia in order to prevent further Russian aggression against or interference in Ukraine and other countries," Schmieding told CNBC on Monday.

"Biden knows Europe well. In contrast to Trump, he has no understanding for self-proclaimed" strong men "like Putin. He emphatically supports NATO and the EU."

The extent of Biden's commitment to defending Europe from possible Russian aggression is evident in his stance on NATO, the military alliance whose members (particularly Germany) have repeatedly been berated by Trump for not spending enough on defense.

"There are rumors of a NATO summit at the beginning of a Biden administration that will signal the primacy of transatlantic relations and quickly change the tone of the Trump years," said Chris Skaluba, former US defense official and director of the Atlantic Council's Transatlantic Security Initiative Said in a note Saturday.

"Expect swift efforts to improve US-EU relations as well."

Skaluba added that it should be watched in particular whether Biden reverses Trump's decision to remove thousands of US troops from Germany.

"This will be a down payment to ensure that adequate resources are available to deter Russia," he said. "Another decision would point to a gap between rhetoric and resources and this will create further, albeit more polite, transatlantic tensions."


Katherine Clark